- Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease that can cause debilitating or fatal complications, including encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and dehydration, pneumonia, ear infections and permanent vision loss. The disease is preventable through two doses of vaccine. Congenital Rubella Syndrome, or CRS, is an important cause of severe birth defects. A woman infected with the rubella virus early in pregnancy has a 90% chance of passing the virus to her foetus. This can cause the death of the foetus, or CRS.
- UAE and Saudi Arabia had decided to use India as a base to address their food security concerns.
- Magh Bihu/Bhogali Bihu is to Assam what Pongal is to Tamil Nadu and Lohri to Punjab. Uruka is the precursor to Magh Bihu. Uruka is marked by lighting bonfires and feasting at a Meji or Bhelaghar, a temporary structure made with bamboo, hay and dried plantain leaves.
- Chardham development plan proposes to provide all-weather connectivity to the four holy towns of Uttarakhand. The four towns of the hilly State to be connected by all-weather roads are Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
- PSLV-C44 mission will see a new variant of the PSLV in use. This variant, tagged PSLV-DL, will be the first to sport two strap-on boosters for providing added thrust.
- The Centre has signed an agreement with Chief Ministers of five States — Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh — to restart construction of the Renuka multipurpose dam project in the Upper Yamuna Basin. The Renuka dam project has been conceived as a storage project on the Giri river (a tributary of the Yamuna) in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The project envisages making a 148-metre-high dam for supplying water to Delhi and other basin States. It will also generate 40 MW of power.
- Reservation of EWS – The proviso to Article 368 (power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure thereof) holds that an amendment to a fundamental right coming under Part III of the Constitution need not be ratified by the Legislatures of one half of the States. The Bill, passed by both the Houses of Parliament, adds new clauses to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. Both the Articles come under the part of ‘Fundamental Rights’ in the text of the Constitution. They are part of the ‘right to equality’ section of the fundamental rights envisaged in the Constitution. The new clause (6) to Article 15 allows the government to carve reservation for the economically weaker sections of society in higher educational institutions, including private ones, whether they are aided or not by the State. Minority educational institutions are exempted. Likewise, the new clause (6) to Article 16 provides for quota for economically deprived sections in the initial appointment in government services.
- National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) – The Centre has launched a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. The Rs. 300-crore, NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan, with 2019 as the first year. This is not a pan-India, but a city-specific programme, after five years, there will be a review of the progress; Broadly, the plans include increasing the number of monitoring stations, providing technology support, conducting source apportionment studies, and strengthening enforcement. For achieving the NCAP targets, the cities will have to calculate the reduction in pollution, keeping 2017’s average annual PM levels as the base year.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to allow card payment providers to offer tokenisation services will ensure the safety of digital transactions and reduce chances of fraud. Tokenisation involves a process in which a unique token masks sensitive card details like card and CVV number. The token is used to perform card transactions in contactless mode at Point Of Sale (POS) terminals, Quick Response (QR) code payments, etc. The way the token will work is like this — the debit or credit card holder will create a code for a particular amount, say Rs. 500, through an app in the form of a number. That number will have the amount that can be spent, the merchant type where it can be spent as well as time within which the transaction needs to be completed. Then the number can be shared with the merchant who will enter it in the mobile, to get the payment for the items sold. The Reserve of India (RBI) has allowed all card payment networks to offer tokenisation service. However, the central bank has made it clear that no charges should be recovered from the customer for availing this service. The RBI has allowed card payment networks to offer card tokenisation services to any token requestor, that is, a third party app provider. A card holder can avail of these services by registering the card on the token requestor’s app and after giving ‘explicit consent’. For additional factor of authentication, PIN entry shall be applicable for tokenised card transactions also.
- The Raisina Dialogue is a multilateral conference held annually in New Delhi. Since its inception in 2016, the conference has emerged as India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics. The conference is hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs. The conference is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion, involving a variety of global policymakers including heads of state, cabinet ministers and local government officials. In addition, The Dialogue also welcomes major private sector executives, as well as members of the media and academia. It is designed on the lines of Singapore’s Shangri-La Dialogue.
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